Tag Archives: Daniel Dae Kim

Cultural Catchup Project: The Disc Stands Alone (Angel)

The Disc Stands Alone

June 10th, 2011

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

I’ve been falling behind a bit on my Angel catchup, although it isn’t without reason. After finishing the first disc of Season 3, I found myself confronting three very different episodes that were slightly more distinctive than I might have expected. Some offer standalone stories which gesture towards future developments, some look to focus on our supporting characters and their journey to this point, and some offer a more general thematic consideration as facilitated through a carefully designed monster of the week.

There just wasn’t any sort of hook for me to focus on which would unite “That Vision Thing,” “That Old Gang of Mine,” and “Carpe Noctem,” and the recent heatwave zapped away my energy to dive any further into the series to try to find that thread.

And so, while I would like to offer something more, here’s a fairly basis episode-by-episode rundown of the remainder of Disc 1.

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Lost – “The Package”

“The Package”

March 30th, 2010

There are plenty of reasons to be apprehensive about “The Package.” It’s coming off of an epic mythology episode of romance and intrigue, it features a vague title that seems to refer to some sort of MacGuffin, and it has the unfortunate task of “filling in the gaps” in its flash sideways as opposed to telling its own story. Because we saw a small glimpse into Jin’s fate in “Sundown,” we can be fairly certain that the show will be colouring in the lines this week, and after a week when the show was willing to go off the page entirely it means that the show is facing an uphill battle.

Like the season’s weaker episodes, “The Package” struggles with a flash-sideways that proves completely inconclusive and an island scenario which feels like pieces moving on a chess board, but it ultimately works because it doesn’t feel like those pieces are being moved. When things stall in the episode, it feels like they’re stalling for a reason, and everyone involved knows why they’re making the choices they are. While things may not be moving as quickly as some fans want them to be, they seem to be moving faster than the characters were prepared for, and there’s a nice tension there which bodes well for the remainder of the season.

And, let’s face it: the reveal of just what “The Package” is was way too good for me to be too cranky.

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Lost – “This Place is Death”

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“This Place is Death”

February 11th, 2009

Yesterday, I was reading a piece by Devin Faraci over at CHUD.com, wherein he laid out a laundry list of concerns over the trajectory of Lost’s fifth season. To summarize, Devin is arguing that the focus on time travel has them indulging themselves in the show’s science fiction elements, and that it is forgetting about its characters, losing its momentum, and diverting attention from where it should be placed. And, ostensibly, I believe that he is right about every one of these things; the only difference is that I feel the show is better for it.

“This Place is Death” is a reminder that this isn’t just an investigation of the island itself, but rather an investigation of the island and its relationship with these characters. It has given them things, such as a new set of legs, just as it has taken them away, and what we have here is the island beginning to assert its power over them. Charlotte is correct to remark that this island is one where death is prevalent, but we know it hasn’t always been this way: it gave Locke back his ability to walk, it cured Rose’s cancer, and it appears to have given Richard Alpert the ability to transcend the aging process entirely.

But now the island is off its axis, something has gone off-kilter. As the when of the island changes, the what changes with it: it affects different people to different degrees, its only consistency that it has turned against them all in at least some capacity. This episode is about one man’s plan to try to change this, and another man’s concern that if it proves unstoppable it might mean something terrible for the person about whom he cares the most. This, ultimately, is a character-driven story, one that focuses on a central relationship while reminding us that powers stronger than their love are operating here.

And with a single spin of the wheel, anything is possible.

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Lost – “The Little Prince”

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“The Little Prince”

February 4th, 2009

“It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important…”

The last time we spent a great deal of time with Kate off the island, we were in the midst of her legal battles. It was quite literally a loose end: they needed to deal with her pending trial, no question, but in doing so they were forced to dredge up parts of her past back stories which felt overplayed, and to play with Jack’s lies in a way that couldn’t be investigated within that narrow time frame. The episode, “Eggtown,” was amongst the most frustrating of Season Four primarily because it never felt like there was something bigger at stake: here was Kate with this gap of time we don’t understand and with a future ahead of her, and we’re diddling around in her past and eventually, only eventually, putting together that Aaron was one of the Oceanic Six.

There was reason to be concerned that “The Little Prince” would be much the same, but it was actually quite the opposite. Working within this new broadly drawn character-focused episode structure, this is not just an episode about Kate: yes we spent a lot of time with the show’s female lead, but we spend an equal amount of time with the man who is back on the island, still in love with her to this day. The episode draws a line between Sawyer and Kate that is able to transcend time, dropping each of them into the other’s story when it feels like their connection could be severed.

This, more definitively than the other episodes of the season, is the one that shows just how beneficial this new format is. Not only do we avoid being too one-dimensional in our focus, extending it to other characters like Sawyer, but the episode delves into a substantial amount of island mythology, flashing around in time on multiple occasions and never letting those left behind to catch their breath. The urgency of the island is palpable, which keeps the momentum going from an action perspective, whereas what’s happening off the island is both emotionally resonant and questionably manipulative to the point where it maintains that momentum even without the same sense of urgency.

To draw on the above line from The Little Prince, the story on which the episode’s title is based, we can draw numerous conclusions: not only is it a key phrase for the island’s newest mystery (where time spent is an important variable), but it’s also a reminder that all the time spent building these characters has made episodes like this one operate on a shorthand that can’t be beat right now. Combine that with the episode-ending shocker of sorts, and there is no question that this episode shows the continued promise for the season ahead.

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Season Finale – Lost – “There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”

“There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”

May 29th, 2008

“Who the frak is Jeremy Bentham?”

[In case this 4700 word review wasn’t enough, here’s more post-podcast thoughts about the Lost finale! Was the finale spoiled by the one which preceded it, dooming it from the very beginning? Well, no, but it’s a valid argument.]

This is the question that pervades the conclusion to Lost’s fourth season, one that I asked myself the second the name was uttered. Now, I presumed that this (like most Lost names) had special meaning, but resisted the urge to head off to my computer to use Wikpedia to find out which philosopher or some other profession the show was using to describe this intriguing character who, as the finale unfolds, we learn was in the casket we saw a season ago.

And, well, I didn’t even have to wait until I returned to my computer: someone who was only in the TV lounge to watch a show proceeding Lost knew the story, and immediately it clicked: it wasn’t his ideas that made him an ideal choice, but rather his legacy.

From Wikipedia:

As requested in his will, [Jeremy Bentham’s] body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his “Auto-icon”. Originally kept by his disciple Dr. Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. For the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, the Auto-icon was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where he was listed as “present but not voting”. Tradition holds that if the council’s vote on any motion is tied, the auto-icon always breaks the tie by voting in favour of the motion.

In an episode full of light bulb moments, pieces falling into place as we knew they had to, this was the biggest: a realization that, in kind with the words of the characters standing beside the casket, there was life after death for its occupant. Death is strange on the island, we know this: whether it’s Christian, Claire or Charlie, it is clear that dying is not final in this world.

And there is nothing final about this finale; while we turn the corner on one chapter of the lives of our castaways, the series has simultaneously created a whole new set of mysteries, a whole new structural question (perhaps even rivaling our post-season three confusion), and certainly more than enough dramatic potential for the final two seasons to resonate just as strongly as this one.

To be frank, this is no “Through the Looking Glass;” its moving pieces were smaller, and its scale (even considering Locke’s mission from Jacob) are in no way going to create something to that level. However, the episode fulfills that finale’s potential, paying off storylines both emotional and adventurous, and providing more than enough fodder for Lost fans to continue salivating for the final 34.

In the meantime, let’s salivate over this one.

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